• Chris Wilder insists Sheffield United still not contemplating European finish

    John Egan headed home Oliver Norwood’s corner deep into injury time.

    08 Jul 2020, 20:52 CEST

    Chris Wilder insists Sheffield United are not talking about Europe despite enhancing their claims with victory against Wolves. John Egan headed home Oliver Norwood's corner deep into injury time following a sustained period of pressure to give the Blades a crucial win. The three points moved Wilder's men above Arsenal into seventh place and just a point behind their opponents in the Premier League table, keeping their dreams of Europa League football next season alive and kicking. Asked if a place in Europe was now within their reach, the Blades boss replied: "We've never felt anything is on our grasp, or in our reach, we shouldn't be anywhere near the position we are in. "But we are where we are because we get our heads down and take defeat on the chin and come roaring back. "People should be focusing about us not being in the bottom three, but you can't affect what other people talk about. We just get our heads down and do what we need to do and affect what we can affect. "Seven points out of nine is a really good return and we have to go again. We don't have the strength and power some other clubs in this division have got but we have plenty of heart and plenty of bottle."


    Wilder was pleased with the desire and perseverance of his side, who put Wolves under pressure for large periods in the match before finally getting their reward in the third minute of stoppage time. "I'm really pleased. We wrapped up some really big players at the top end of the pitch, and we had something going the other way as well," said Wilder. "The desire when there were tired bodies was really pleasing and to get a winner is just rewards for the players. We edged a really tight game through absolute will to go and win. "This is top-10 Premier League football, nothing is handed to you. You have to go and earn it and we did that tonight." Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo offered a worrying injury update on Adama Traore, confirming the attacker suffered a dislocated shoulder at Bramall Lane. It is the fourth time this season the 24-year-old has had the injury and Nuno admits the problem is playing on Traore's mind.


    Traore came off with 11 minutes remaining and after the match Nuno said: "It's the same issue that he had before. Let's see how he can overcome that. He is now in pain, but he's a strong boy. "The moment that he has his shoulder dislocated, of course it is in his mind. What I saw is after that he keeps on going, fighting, jumping. It is in his mind but he is able to overcome that." It remains to be seen if Traore will be fit for Wolves next game against Everton on Sunday. On the late defeat to the Blades, Nuno said: "It is a tough moment, the end of the game. It was a very good game by both teams, very intense, and it could have gone both ways. Both teams were going for it. "Football is always teaching you that you should be focused until the last moment. It is small margins. "We look game by game and now we have to react. It has been a tough period but we play again on Sunday and we must raise our standards."

  • Millwall 0-2 Middlesbrough - Match Report

    Middlesbrough boost survival hopes with crucial win over Millwall

    08 Jul 2020, 20:41 CEST


    Britt Assombalonga’s controversial finish handed Middlesbrough a Championship survival boost in a niggly 2-0 win at Millwall.


    Assombalonga’s eighth league goal of the season and a late Ashley Fletcher penalty stole Boro a second win under new boss Niel Warnock and a big boost in their bid to avoid the drop.


    Fletcher fouled Jake Cooper in the build-up to Assombalonga’s goal however, the 24-year-old clearly clipping the Millwall defender’s heels, before sauntering in on goal and playing in Assombalonga.


    As Millwall’s players all stopped expecting a free-kick, referee Tim Robinson let play continue – leaving the Lions fuming when Assombalonga’s goal was allowed to stand.


    The second-half drinks break that quickly followed Assombalonga’s goal was instructive as to Millwall’s lingering frustrations. Midfielder Ryan Woods asked fourth official Neil Hair: “How is that not a foul? How is that not a foul? ****ing useless!”


    Just when Millwall had calmed down however, Cooper felled Fletcher in the box, and the day’s controversial figure stepped up and buried the resulting spot-kick.


    The loss will prove a dent in Millwall’s bid to reach the play-offs, while Warnock will happily grab all three points.


    Matt Smith wasted the best chance of a gritty first half, the bulky striker towering over the Boro defence and yet still heading well over from a corner.


    Millwall saw more of the ball and played far the neater football, with Woods the best player on the field.


    The Stoke loanee bossed the base of the Lions’ midfield, but was unable to coax those in front of him into a breakthrough despite initiating a string of threatening moves.


    Shaun Hutchinson pulled off a fine block to deny Assombalonga a close-range opening for the visitors, before Djed Spence’s flimsy penalty shout was rightly dismissed.


    Warnock cut his usual animated, dissatisfied figure on the touchline as he corralled the visiting players back into the changing rooms at half-time.


    And his words at the interval had enough of an impact to spur his side into upping the tempo.


    Paddy McNair blazed over from near the penalty spot in a glaringly profligate effort however, letting Millwall off the hook right after the restart.


    Millwall rallied quickly enough however, and Smith was unlucky not to break the deadlock with a smart header.


    Dejan Stojanovic’s snap save thwarted the Lions, with the Boro goalkeeper then called into action just moments later to deny Connor Mahoney with his legs.


    Millwall’s resurgence was stopped in its tracks however, as Assombalonga profited from Fletcher’s clear foul to slot home an easy finish.


    Fletcher illegally clipped Cooper’s legs without censure, coasted through the space and played in Assombalonga with a simple square ball.


    As the goal stood, the Millwall players’ fury increased, but to no avail.


    Millwall battled on but could find no way back into the match. And to add insult to injury, Cooper was caught out and conceded a penalty for hacking down Fletcher in the area.


    The gleeful Boro forward lashed home the spot-kick, to send his bench delirious at three hugely valuable points in the battle for survival.


  • Dean Holden refuses to enter race to replace Lee Johnson at Bristol City

    A goal in each half from Famara Diedhiou and Jamie Paterson ended a nine-match streak without a victory.

    08 Jul 2020, 20:34 CEST

    Dean Holden declined to toss his hat into the ring to replace the sacked Lee Johnson after his first match as Bristol City caretaker manager ended in a much-needed 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Hull. A goal in each half from Famara Diedhiou and Jamie Paterson ended a nine-match streak without a victory and produced a bright start to life after the sacking of Johnson at the weekend. But assistant head coach Holden was keeping feet firmly on the ground after a promising start to his spell at the helm. "While I would like a shot at management at some point in my career, my only thought now is to put smiles on the faces of our supporters," he said. "It is not about me at the moment. It is about ending the season as strongly as possible. "I wanted the players to perform with freedom tonight and they have come up with two great goals. "The first half was as I wanted and in the second we showed real fight. Overall, I was very happy with the performance. "We lost Nathan Baker to injury in the first minute, but the players switched on to the ways of overcoming that setback. "Now it is on to the next training session and a long trip to Middlesbrough. I am not thinking beyond that at the moment. "We needed a win to end a poor run. I asked the players to go out and play as if it was the first game of the season."


    Diedhiou shot the Robins ahead on 41 minutes from Paterson's first time pass into the box before Paterson doubled the advantage with a superb 30-yard free kick eight minutes after the break. Hull skipper Jordy De Wijs gave his side hope with a glancing header from George Honeyman's free kick on the hour mark, but it wasn't enough as the Tigers remained in the bottom three. Tigers boss Grant McCann said: "The players are giving everything. We are fighting for our lives, but we need to be better defensively. "Performances since lockdown have been so much better. We have more players fit and have been in every game. "Tonight their first goal followed an unlucky ricochet and the second was an unbelievable free kick, which we could do little about. "Our tempo wasn't great at the start of the game. But the lads responded really well to going behind and the second half performance was good. "The ref gave a lot of free kicks against us, particularly Tom Eaves, so it was no surprise when he gave the one that led to their second goal. "We cannot dwell on this result because games are coming thick and fast. There is another huge one against Millwall coming up. "We had chances tonight and are getting into dangerous areas. I can't fault the effort the players are putting in."

  • Pep Guardiola salutes David Silva after he stars in Newcastle rout

    The Manchester City midfielder was at his best against the Magpies and boss Guardiola said: “I have never seen anyone like him.”

    08 Jul 2020, 20:30 CEST

    Pep Guardiola hailed David Silva after the veteran Spaniard delivered an inspirational display in Manchester City's 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle on Wednesday. Silva scored a superb free-kick and set up the first and last goals of a one-sided Premier League victory for Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling at the Etihad Stadium. The 34-year-old is leaving the club at the end of the season after a decade's outstanding service and, although all games are currently being played behind closed doors, Guardiola is determined his countryman gets a fitting farewell. The City manager said: "It is not the game today – which was incredible – but what he has done over 10 years. "When the people come back to the Etihad Stadium we will do a farewell game for one of the legends of this club. "He is maybe the best in the small spaces. Moving between the lines I have never seen anyone like him. "He has come back from lockdown in incredible form and rhythm. If he decides to play on he can play anywhere – there is no doubt about this." Riyad Mahrez was also on target and there was a Federico Fernandez own goal as City bounced back from a surprise loss at Southampton to overwhelm Newcastle.


    Guardiola said: "At Southampton I had no doubts about the way we played but this game is about winning. "Now we have four weeks to finish second, score a lot of goals. We want to score goals, respect the football and prepare well for Arsenal and (Real) Madrid." Guardiola rested 19-year-old centre-back Eric Garcia, whose impressive recent form has seen him linked with boyhood club Barcelona. Guardiola admitted the club still have work to do to secure his services. He said: "He has one more year on his contract. If they want him they must call him and we are going to try to convince him to stay here for many, many, many years. "I am confident he will stay but at the end it is his decision. We want him but if he doesn't want to stay we cannot do anything else. He knows, his agent knows, his family knows that we want him." Newcastle's cause was not helped by a raft of injuries with manager Steve Bruce forced to make six changes. Bruce, however, conceded that his side were outplayed. He said: "We are disappointed but I have to say they were far too good for us. We have got to be brutally honest and say we did not do enough to lay a glove on them. "We knew we were up against it. We can't be without six or seven of our better players, especially when you come to a place like this, but I don't want to use that as the excuse. "We have to be better than that. It was too easy for them from the first whistle to the last. If we play like that here we are going to get beaten and we were. "They were far too good for us in all departments but the manner of it upsets me greatly. I wanted us to put on more of a show than we did."

  • David Moyes left baffled by decision not to send off James Tarkowski

    The defender was lucky to stay on the pitch after a rash tackle.

    08 Jul 2020, 20:14 CEST

    David Moyes was left gobsmacked at the decision not to show James Tarkowski a red card during West Ham's 1-0 defeat by Burnley. Clarets skipper Tarkowski was lucky to stay on the pitch early in the second half after planting his studs into the thigh of Jarrod Bowen. It was a similarly ugly challenge to the one which saw Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah sent off 24 hours earlier, but referee Michael Oliver showed only a yellow card and VAR chose not to intervene. Hammers boss Moyes said: "It was only brought to my attention afterwards but, look, it's a red card. "It's not going to change the result but it's really disappointing the referee didn't see it as a red, the linesman didn't, and we've got the chance to go to VAR to make a decision on it. "For me it's gone, but it's right that it's brought up and asked why it's not been given. "We've questioned a few of the decisions against us and had responses back that we don't agree with, so I'm guessing I won't agree with the response this time either. "I'm still hoping in the games we've got left that something will go our way."


    Burnley boss Sean Dyche did not see the incident. "I presume that's what VAR is there for. I can't remember if their players reacted," he said. West Ham missed the chance to climb further away from relegation trouble after Jay Rodriguez fired Burnley to victory with a bullet header that went in off the underside of the crossbar. They had chances to equalise but Michail Antonio, Tomas Soucek and record signing Sebastien Haller failed to convert them. "I'm disappointed we didn't take something from the game but you have to give Burnley credit for the way they defended," added Moyes. "But we missed two or three outstanding chances. You don't normally get that number of opportunities to win matches in the Premier League." For Rodriguez it was a 50th goal for his hometown club, and kept the Clarets on the fringe of the European places. "It's really pleasing for Jay, he's been a fantastic servant for this club," added Dyche. "The back five were outstanding and a willing six in front to go and find a goal. The mentality of the group continues to improve. "I think Europe is a big ask, the group is stretched to the limit, but we are still at it."

  • Pep Guardiola delighted with display as Man City bounce back to thrash Newcastle

    City were beaten 1-0 by Southampton on Sunday.

    08 Jul 2020, 19:33 CEST

    Pep Guardiola was delighted with the response of his Manchester City players after bouncing back with a 5-0 hammering of Newcastle. City were beaten 1-0 by Southampton on Sunday, but early goals from Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez set them on their way to a routine win. David Silva and substitute Raheem Sterling also found the net either side of an own goal from Federico Fernandez to leave City with a platform to build on for the rest of the season. Asked what he liked about their performance, Guardiola told BT Sport: "Everything. The commitment, we played well, the same level as the last game. "It was another good performance and today, we scored the goals that we missed in the last game. We created more chances in the game against Southampton, but we could not convert. "But the team is always there. We are preparing for the games against Arsenal and (Real) Madrid."


    Mahrez urged City to maintain their standards as they target a Champions League and FA Cup double in what remains of the season. He said: "We need to keep it up, keep working and keep trying to help the team to improve so you arrive in the best form for important games for us." Mahrez, whose goal against the Magpies was his 10th of the season, added: "It's not easy, but we made it easy by scoring early in the game, then after we had more control and we could try to score more goals." Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce admitted his team had simply been nowhere good enough on the day. He said: "It was painful, I'm afraid, especially after where we have been, but I think the whole thing has obviously caught up with us and we haven't done enough. "They're very, very good, we know that. Since the lockdown, they've turned the champions over and to play them twice in a week has been difficult. "They were, on the day, just too good for us. Unfortunately today, we were nowhere near the level which we had to get to if you are going to take anything from here."

  • Wigan edge to victory over QPR to boost Championship survival chances

    Having entered administration Wigan face a 12-point penalty.

    08 Jul 2020, 19:16 CEST

    Wigan's hopes of avoiding the drop were boosted as Kieffer Moore's first-half strike earned the beleaguered Championship outfit a 1-0 win over QPR at a rain-soaked DW Stadium. Playing at home for the first time since last week's announcement that they had entered administration, Latics went ahead in the 33rd minute when Moore rifled a shot past Joe Lumley having been played in by Sam Morsy. Moore nearly added a second after the interval, while QPR's closest attempt was an Ilias Chair shot saved in fine style by David Marshall. The result leaves Wigan eight points above the relegation zone with four games left to play. But having entered administration, the club face a 12-point penalty – against which they are appealing – that will be applied this season if Paul Cook's men finish outside the bottom three. The threat of relegation remains considerable, but Cook and his players will not be lacking in belief following this seventh win in nine games as they bounced back from Saturday's 3-0 loss at Brentford. Meanwhile, Mark Warburton's QPR, despite a fourth loss in five, are also eight points above the drop zone.


    Wigan made a lively start, with Jamal Lowe's strike bringing a stop out of Lumley in the fourth minute. Kal Naismith had a shot deflected wide moments later and then slid to get a foot to a Moore cross but was unable to get his effort on target. After Moore subsequently just failed to connect with a fine Kieran Dowell pass into the box, Marshall made his first save in the 23rd minute, dealing with a Bright Osayi-Samuel attempt from distance with ease. The hosts then grabbed the lead when skipper Morsy drove forward from midfield and fed Moore, who lashed the ball past Lumley. While QPR mustered little in response, Wigan exerted more pressure just before the break as Naismith saw a drive from 30 yards out parried by Lumley, who also grabbed a Moore header. Moore then came close to doubling the advantage in the 51st minute as he fired narrowly wide, before Marshall made a superb stop around the hour mark to keep out Chair's strike. The counter-attack that followed then saw Lowe carry the ball to the QPR box, where he was denied by a Lumley block. Wigan threatened again in the 82nd minute as Danny Fox headed a corner over, then saw out a nervy last few minutes before the final whistle confirmed three points were secure.

  • Bristol City beat Hull in first game since sacking Lee Johnson

    Famara Diedhiou and Jamie Paterson were on the scoresheet for the Robins.

    08 Jul 2020, 19:16 CEST

    Goals from Famara Diedhiou and Jamie Paterson gave Bristol City a 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Hull in their first match since sacking head coach Lee Johnson. The hosts took a 41st-minute lead when Paterson's first-time pass into the box found Diedhiou unmarked. The striker was given time and space to control the ball and slot it past George Long. Paterson doubled the advantage after 53 minutes with a superb right-footed free-kick from 30 yards that went in off the crossbar after Diedhiou had been fouled. Hull skipper Jordy De Wijs cut the deficit with a 60th-minute glancing header from George Honeyman's free-kick on the left. But the Robins held on for their first win in 10 games, condemning their opponents to a place in the Sky Bet Championship's bottom three with just four games left. Assistant head coach Dean Holden changed formation to 3-5-2 for his first game in caretaker charge, bringing in Jack Hunt, Filip Benkovic and Paterson. Hull boss Grant McCann also made three changes, including Angus MacDonald, Callum Elder and James Scott in his starting line-up.


    The home side had a setback in the first minute when centre-back Nathan Baker suffered what appeared to be a head injury and had to be replaced by Zak Vyner after lengthy treatment. Bristol City had the first efforts at goal, Nahki Wells shooting over and Paterson seeing an effort blocked. But Hull responded and Scott had a fierce drive deflected out for a corner. Neither side could exert much control before Diedhiou made the breakthrough to give the hosts a lead they barely deserved. During 10 minutes of first-half stoppage time, Mallik Wilks fired over for Hull, but it was one of few goal threats from either team before the break. Bristol City might have gone two up five minutes into the second half when Wells broke clear down the left and cut inside only to see his low shot well saved by Long. After Paterson's goal, Long had to make another fine stop to keep out a Diedhiou volley.


    At the other end Tom Eaves, one of two half-time substitutes for Hull, had a shot deflected just wide. Reece Burke headed over for Hull moments after McCann had made his third change, sending on Josh Bowler for Scott. De Wijs breathed new life into the Tigers with his goal, and appeals for a penalty when Wilks went down were unanswered by referee Gavin Ward. Goalkeeper Dan Bentley protected Bristol City's lead with a fine diving save from Wilks' low drive, while at the other end Andreas Weimann shot wide when well placed. Bentley did well again to keep out a Bowler volley as Hull pressed for a late equaliser, but their efforts proved in vain.

  • Rhian Brewster scores again as Swansea close on play-offs with win at Birmingham

    The Swans are a point outside the play-off places.

    08 Jul 2020, 19:12 CEST

    Swansea strengthened their Sky Bet Championship play-off claims after piling on more woe for Birmingham City with a 3-1 win at St Andrew's. The South Wales side came from behind after Lukas Jutkiewicz's fifth-minute opener as on-loan Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster, Ben Cabango and Jay Fulton turned the game on its head. A second successive victory for Steve Cooper's side saw them move within a point and a place of the top six behind fierce rivals Cardiff, while Brewster made it eight goals in 16 games since his arrival from Anfield in January. But the result prolonged the frustration for Blues, who are now 10 games without a win in the Championship. They have taken just six points out of a possible 30 under departing head coach Pep Clotet and have conceded three times in each of their last five home games. It was an all-action start at St. Andrew's with chances at both ends and two goals in the first 12 minutes. Jutkiewicz saw a powerful header palmed away by goalkeeper Freddie Woodman diving to his left. But the striker was not to be denied a second time as he stooped to nod home in the fifth minute after team-mates Kristian Pedersen and Jake Clarke-Salter tussled for Dan Crowley's cross. Birmingham captain Jutkiewicz has now matched his season's career-best tally of 14 goals after his first goal in nine games.


    Brewster was inches away for Swansea with a towering header that bounced just wide from Jake Bidwell's up-and-under cross. But England Under-21s international Brewster made no mistake when he rifled in a falling volley after Connor Roberts nodded back Conor Gallagher's cross. The Blues tried to hit back and Scott Hogan's shot on the turn was blocked by Cabango and Gary Gardner headed inches over from Jeremie Bela's corner. At the other end Swansea captain Matt Grimes whistled a low left-foot drive narrowly off target on his 100th appearance for the club. The visitors took the lead in the 45th minute when Cabango bundled home the first goal of his career to punish poor defending after Clarke-Salter diverted Roberts' centre into his path. Blues brought on Jude Bellingham at half-time for the out-of-sorts Hogan, but their plight was about to get worse. Fulton made it 3-1 seven minutes into the period with a mishit shot when Blues left him unmarked 15 yards out from Grimes' corner. The hosts tried to respond but Bela's first-time effort deflected wide and Jutkiewicz poked straight at Woodman when clean through. Brewster wasted the chance to give his team-mates some respite from a late aerial onslaught when he lobbed too close to keeper Lee Camp when clean through. But Swansea defended superbly as Blues launched cross after cross in the torrential rain.

  • John Egan strikes again as Sheffield United snatch last-gasp win over Wolves

    Egan headed home Oliver Norwood’s corner following a sustained period of Blades pressure to give Chris Wilder’s side a crucial victory.

    08 Jul 2020, 19:07 CEST

    John Egan struck deep into injury time as Sheffield United defeated fellow European hopefuls Wolves 1-0 at a rain-sodden Bramall Lane. It looked like the game would finish goalless but Egan headed home Oliver Norwood's corner following a sustained period of Blades pressure to give Chris Wilder's side a crucial victory. The win moved the hosts above Arsenal into seventh place and just a point behind their opponents in the Premier League table, keeping their dreams of Europa League football next season alive and kicking. Meanwhile, successive defeats for Wolves have likely ended their hopes of making the Champions League, although Nuno Espirio Santo's side could still qualify for the competition should they win the Europa League next month. Blades boss Wilder made two changes. The fit-again Jack O'Connell replaced Jack Robinson in defence while club captain Billy Sharp started up front as David McGoldrick missed out with a foot injury.


    Wolves made one change after the home defeat to Arsenal with Diogo Jota coming in for Leander Dendoncker. Both sides got their passing games going early on in what was a competitive opening, but equally the organisation of the two teams often meant that free-flowing football lacked a cutting edge around the penalty areas. When Wolves worked their way through the Blades defence after 14 minutes, Raul Jimenez's touch on his chest was heavy as he tried to control Adama Traore's cross and what would have been a clear shot on goal eight yards out was lost. Shortly afterwards, Oliver McBurnie got across the front of Conor Coady at the near post to meet O'Connell's cross but his glancing header was straight at Rui Patricio. O'Connell cynically halted Jota's drive towards goal after half an hour and received a yellow card for the foul.


    Ruben Neves fired the resulting free-kick goalwards but his effort clipped the top of the crossbar on its way over. Wolves had a couple of let-offs either side of half time when Willy Boly's pass-back to Patricio was pounced upon by Sharp but his shot was blocked by the goalkeeper. Sharp was involved again early in the second half when he put the ball in the net, only to see his celebrations curtailed by an offside flag. It was the beginning of a sustained period of pressure for the Blades but Wolves, marshalled at the back by Coady, largely kept the hosts at arm's length until Jonny switched off 12 minutes from time but, thankfully for him, George Baldock's header went wide. Wolves endured a late barrage of pressure as the Blades went in search of a winning goal and their endeavour was rewarded in injury time when defender Egan, who scored a superb goal in the draw at Burnley at the weekend, rose highest to head home Norwood's corner, sending Wilder leaping in joy down the touchline.

  • Slaven Bilic salutes West Brom after returning to the top of the table

    Grady Diangana and Dara O’Shea scored in the win over Derby.

    08 Jul 2020, 19:04 CEST

    Slaven Bilic hailed his West Brom players after Albion returned to the summit of the Sky Bet Championship. The Baggies moved two points clear of Leeds after goals from Grady Diangana and Dara O'Shea clinched a routine 2-0 win over Derby. They need eight points from their final four games to end their two-year exile from the Premier League. Derby had Louie Sibley sent off late on and missed the chance to close the gap on the top six. Second-placed Leeds host Stoke on Thursday and will return to the top with a victory but Bilic was proud of the Baggies on Wednesday. "The guys below are putting the pressure on us and Leeds, us and Leeds don't put the pressure on each other but it's nice to be back on the top of the table," he said, with the Baggies five points clear of third-placed Brentford. "We were magnificent, we were fantastic. We played with a very offensive team and to defend like this against a good team and give them nothing and keep the ball, create so many chances – the only thing which was missing was an earlier second goal. "I'm so proud of them. We had very offensive players but the way we defended was great. Everyone did the job. To leave Derby in this form they are in with nothing requires not only patience and quality, everything was there. "It's not only three points, the performance is giving you belief and confidence."


    West Ham loanee Diangana opened the scoring after 11 minutes when he netted from a tight angle after latching onto Kamil Grosicki's pass. Matheus Pereira remained a constant threat and shot wide while Ben Hamer denied Charlie Austin. Albion never looked in danger and O'Shea wrapped up the points 14 minutes from the end, heading in Pereira's corner. Derby remain three points adrift of the top six and Sibley was dismissed in injury time after a foolish kick on O'Shea. Boss Phillip Cocu said: "That is no red card. I think we will appeal. I don't know if you saw the footage from close range, at first I wasn't sure as it was on the other side of the pitch. "But when I saw the clip it was 100 per cent no red card. If he gets a suspension, for me, it would be unbelievable." Cocu also empathised with Wayne Rooney after the former England international failed to make an impact. He added: "I know what he (Rooney) was annoyed about, the same as we were all annoyed about – that is how the referee was leading the game, or not leading the game. A lot of decisions were very doubtful. "Everybody can have a good or bad day, like us as players or managers, but sometimes you also have to take responsibility if it was a nightmare."

  • Jay Rodriguez nets winner as Burnley beat relegation-battling West Ham

    The Hammers remain in relegation trouble.

    08 Jul 2020, 19:01 CEST

    West Ham missed the chance to climb further away from relegation trouble after Jay Rodriguez fired Burnley to a 1-0 Premier League victory. Rodriguez's first-half goal, a bullet header in off the underside of the crossbar, boosted Burnley's hopes of a place in Europe next season. The Hammers could not find a way through a resolute Clarets defence after the interval and remain four points clear of the bottom three. Visitors Burnley should have taken the lead when Matej Vydra collected Charlie Taylor's cross on the six-yard line and laid the ball off to Erik Pieters, but the Dutchman blazed over. Vydra then met Ashley Westwood's free-kick with a glancing header which flew straight into the arms of Lukasz Fabianski. West Ham began to look threatening, though, and Nick Pope had to block a volley from Tomas Soucek and keep out Michail Antonio's angled drive with his feet. So it was against the run of play when Burnley took the lead in the 39th minute, Rodriguez darting in front of Aaron Cresswell and meeting Taylor's cross with a fine header for his 10th goal of the season.


    The ball bounced down off the underside of the crossbar twice before finally spinning away from the flailing Fabianski and rolling over the line. Antonio had the chance to equalise immediately but blasted his shot into the sidenetting before Pope saved from Andriy Yarmolenko low down at his near post. James Tarkowski could count himself lucky to stay on the pitch early in the second half after planting his studs into the thigh of Jarrod Bowen. It was a similarly ugly challenge to the one which saw Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah sent off 24 hours earlier, but referee Michael Oliver showed only a yellow card and the VAR chose not to intervene. Hammers boss David Moyes sent on West Ham's record signing Sebastien Haller, fit again after a hip injury which had kept him out since the restart. Within seconds the French striker had a glorious opportunity to equalise, but showed his ring rust with a weak finish too close to Pope. Burnley had the ball in the net again when Chris Wood slid in Phil Bardsley's cross but he was flagged offside. West Ham poured forward in search of an equaliser but Burnley held firm to stay on the fringes of the European places and keep the Hammers sweating for a little longer at least.

  • Morton announce plan to become community-owned club

    MCT will be work closely with the existing board members and key club personnel.

    08 Jul 2020, 19:00 CEST

    Morton are set to become a community-owned club. Morton Club Together (MCT) announced that an agreement in principle has been reached with Golden Casket, the current owners of the Cappielow club, to take over majority shareholding of the club from next summer. The agreement reached with Golden Casket, headed up by current club chairman Crawford Rae, will see the club sold to MCT for a nominal sum. Golden Casket will also write off the club's debt in its entirety while retaining ownership of Cappielow to rent it to Morton at a nominal fee. MCT will own approximately 90 per cent of the shareholding in the club and in time for the 2021/22 season. In a press release, MCT founder and director, Graham McLennan said: "Our goal has been clear from the outset – we want to move Morton forward. "We want a better team on the pitch. We want a better match day experience for everyone attending Cappielow. "We want to listen to the fans and to communicate effectively with all fans, stakeholders, and partners. "We are all Morton supporters; we all want what is best for the club and now is our chance to be that best for the club through community ownership. "In April 2019, MCT was just an idea. Now, with 440 members, we have achieved so much and have an exciting future ahead of us. "We would like to thank every single one of our members who has supported us so far. "As we have always said, we encourage Morton fans from everywhere to join us on this journey, and we hope this announcement will encourage many more to come on board."


    MCT will be work closely with the existing board members and key club personnel to better learn the business of the club and fully understand its operations. MCT director Stewart Farmer said: "This is a magnificent achievement in a very short period. MCT was formed in April, 2019 and has already made significant contributions, both financially and increasingly on an administrative basis, into Morton. "Over the last 14 months, we have had a team of dedicated, hard-working and extremely capable volunteers working around the clock to get us to where we are now." The agreement is also conditional on both parties, MCT and Golden Casket, agreeing in March, 2021 that MCT are in a financial position to run the club in a viable manner. In recent months, negotiations had been ongoing between a third party and Golden Casket, with involvement from MCT, around a purchase of the football club.


    Despite the terms of that deal being much more financially beneficial to Golden Casket and the Rae family, an offer from the third party was rejected in favour of facilitating community ownership through MCT. Rae said: "The Rae family's final act of devotion to the club is to hand it over to the fans, marking their last involvement in the financial responsibility and stewardship at GMFC." MCT director Gordon Ritchie added: "The faith that Golden Casket and the Rae family have shown in all of us cannot be underestimated and we thank them for that. 20 years ago the Rae family saved the club, and now their legacy will be a club at the heart of Inverclyde, owned by the people who love it most, the fans."

  • Manchester City get back to winning ways against lacklustre Newcastle

    Gabriel Jesus began the rout while Riyad Mahrez, David Silva and Raheem Sterling also got on the scoresheet along with a Federico Fernandez own goal.

    08 Jul 2020, 18:59 CEST

    Manchester City got back among the goals as they thrashed Newcastle 5-0 in a one-sided Premier League encounter at the Etihad Stadium. Stung by a surprise loss at Southampton on Sunday, Pep Guardiola's side looked more like the team that hammered new champions Liverpool last week in another emphatic home performance. Gabriel Jesus ended his barren run to begin the rout while Riyad Mahrez, David Silva and Raheem Sterling also got on the scoresheet along with a Federico Fernandez own goal. City took full advantage of the injury woes which forced Newcastle boss Steve Bruce into six changes, tearing through the visitors almost at will. The Magpies, without the dangerous Allan Saint-Maximin and with Miguel Almiron only fit enough for the bench, offered little in return. The pattern of the game was set in the opening minutes as Mahrez cut in from the right and shot straight at Martin Dubravka. It did not take long for the opener to come and Jesus will have been relieved to get it. After nine games without scoring and unfavourable comparisons to Sergio Aguero, the Brazilian was in need of a goal. It was teed up nicely for him by Silva, who swept in a low cross from the left, and Jesus calmly tucked home.


    Mahrez then tested Dubravka on the turn and Phil Foden shot across goal. City's second came after 21 minutes when they carved Newcastle open again. This time it was Mahrez who finished from in front of goal, turning home after Kevin De Bruyne reached the byline. It was De Bruyne's 18th assist in the Premier League this season. It was half an hour before Newcastle had a chance and even then Ederson dealt comfortably with Fernandez's header. City spurned a number of chances to increase their lead with Foden uncharacteristically guilty of a couple of bad misses. The 20-year-old went through on goal after a one-two with Jesus only to miss the target and then somehow put wide from three yards after being set up by De Bruyne. Oleksandr Zinchenko also had a thunderous long-range shot blocked. It took a Newcastle intervention for City to claim their third just before the hour.


    Jesus was trying to work a shooting chance when Matt Ritchie nicked the ball from his feet. He attempted to clear behind but Fernandez got in the way and the ball deflected off him for an unfortunate own goal. City's fourth came soon after following a foul on substitute Sterling just outside the area. De Bruyne may have shown his devastating ability from that range in recent weeks but on this occasion he deferred to Silva. The Spaniard, who is leaving the club at the end of the season, stepped up and clipped past Dubravka from 20 yards. He almost got another soon after but this time Dubravka palmed over his first-time shot. City continued to stretch Newcastle and claimed a fifth in added time when they burst forward again and Silva played in Sterling for a simple finish.

  • West Brom edge closer to Premier League return with victory over Derby

    West Brom are two points clear of Leeds at the top of the Sky Bet Championship.

    08 Jul 2020, 18:08 CEST

    West Brom turned up the title pressure on Leeds as they returned to the top of the Sky Bet Championship and moved a step closer to a Premier League return. Grady Diangana and Dara O'Shea struck to down Derby 2-0 with Slaven Bilic's side now two points clear at the top, having played a game more, and five points ahead of third-placed Brentford. Derby's play-off hopes were hit as they dropped to eighth and Louie Sibley was sent off in injury time. Leeds host Stoke on Thursday knowing victory will reclaim the lead but Bilic should be satisfied with a professional job done with just four games left. It had been a bright start from both sides with O'Shea blocking from Duane Holmes and Kamil Grosicki shooting over. But it was Albion who struck first to underline their promotion credentials in the 11th minute. Grosicki's cute through ball found Diangana and the West Ham loanee beat the offside trap to round Ben Hamer and roll in from a tight angle. Albion's Matheus Pereira dragged wide soon after and Graeme Shinnie shot over as the Rams tried to find a foothold. Yet the Baggies had raised their game and comfortably kept the visitors at bay. With Pereira and Diangana they also had the game's most influential players with the pair, at times, toying with Derby in the first half. George Evans blocked a low Pereira effort after the forward danced into the area eight minutes before the break.


    The Baggies continued to press, only for Grosicki to shoot wastefully over, and Hamer was forced into a smart low save when he turned Charlie Austin's volley wide in first-half stoppage time. Wayne Rooney's impact had been minimal but Pereira was growing in stature and Hamer saved his low drive four minutes after the restart. Diangana hobbled off soon after, being replaced by Callum Robinson, but the robust Baggies, who have lost just six league games, did not break stride. Although Sibley slashed wide Derby remained limited and, after Hamer denied Pereira, Albion doubled their lead 14 minutes from time. The Rams conceded a cheap corner and O'Shea lost his marker to head in Pereira's near-post delivery. Derby's misery was then compounded in stoppage time when Sibley saw red for an innocuous kick on O'Shea.

  • New Dundee United boss Micky Mellon happy with the squad at his disposal

    The Scot left Tranmere to take over at Tannadice on Monday

    08 Jul 2020, 17:23 CEST

    Micky Mellon has been "blown away" by the talent he has seen in his first few days as Dundee United boss. The 48-year-old Scot took over at Tannadice on Monday after compensation was agreed with Tranmere. Speaking in a zoom broadcast conference, Mellon revealed that Lee McCulloch and Gordon Forrest, part of the backroom staff under former boss Robbie Neilson who returned to manage Hearts, "have gone or will be moving on". He also enthused about his new squad as he begins to prepare for United's return to the Premiership after being declared champions of the Championship when the coronavirus outbreak brought a halt to football in March. He said: "I said to the players when I met them that it is not often the case that when you take over the football club that they are the champions. "They sort of moved around in their seats because of the pause that has happened, they have kind of forgotten that, but I haven't. "I have been blown away by the level of talent. I want to carry forward that momentum, harness that and keep moving the club forward and enjoy the feel-good factor that is around the club at the moment. "I have to remember that I have the champions so they are doing a lot right and they deserve the opportunity to go out there and blossom. "I am so pleased and excited that we have so much here. It is a very exciting group of players that we have here and I want to make sure we nurture them, give them the opportunity to play first-team football for Dundee United."


    Mellon revealed that player transition coach, Dave Bowman, and head of player pathway, Brian Grant, will fill the gap left by McCulloch and Forrest. He said: "I only got the chance to speak to Gordon really, Lee had already gone. That is up to them, no bad feeling. I don't know what their plans are. "I knew that there were some people who could step in and now that I have seen the quality of Dave Bowman and Granty that there is no rush. "I can sit back and know that they are quality operators and if and when we do bring in any more coaching staff I can make sure we get the right one." Mellon returned to his homeland aware of the off-field battles that are raging on in Scottish football. Hearts and Partick Thistle's legal battle against relegation is set to take place behind closed doors after a judge ruled it should go through the Scottish Football Association arbitration process. United appealed to rival clubs to help fund their GBP 150,000 legal bill after vowing to fight on against attempts to deny Scotland's lower-league champions promotion. "I will go out tomorrow and try to make the players better," said Mellon. "No matter what happens, that is what I am employed to do here. I am not going to say that I am not aware of certain things going on. "But that is not my job to be concerned about that, that is for people who are detailed with those jobs and who are paid to go and do that. "I won't lose my focus on my job. Nothing will derail my thoughts."

  • Gary Rowett unhappy with referee after Millwall’s loss to Middlesbrough

    The Lions’ play-off hopes suffered a huge blow.

    08 Jul 2020, 17:09 CEST

    Gary Rowett hit out at Ashley Fletcher's "blatant foul" that set Middlesbrough en route to a 2-0 Championship win at Millwall. Fletcher clipped Lions defender Jake Cooper's heels, ghosted through acres of space and fed Britt Assombalonga for the opening goal that turned Wednesday's gritty clash at The Den. Fletcher then converted a late penalty he had won himself, when being upended by the luckless Cooper. Neil Warnock's Boro saw their relegation dogfight boosted by the win, while Rowett admitted Millwall's play-off battle is now on the line. "What looked like a trip, what felt like a trip, was a trip," said Rowett. "In a tight game, very physical, very direct, it always felt as though one moment would decide the game. "I'm not going to excuse our performance, because it wasn't good enough, but it was a blatant trip. "He didn't mean to do it, by the way, it wasn't intentional. But he's caught his feet, that's kicked his other leg and he's fallen over, Jake Cooper. "What's very disappointing is the linesman who is two yards away, and the referee between them – you have to make what looks very much like an obvious decision, because it's so controversial. If you get it wrong, it changes the game. "And unfortunately today the referee and the linesman got it horribly wrong between them. "It happens in games, he's clipped his heels. But the fact he's clipped his heels, he's fallen over and it then becomes a two-versus-one, it's obvious. "I think I could have given that with my eyes closed. I've watched it about five times, it's a blatant foul. "They've got a big one wrong, and it's cost us the game. I can only be disappointed with that. Those moments open the game up. "And then their second goal comes from us trying to chase the game and get back into it. We're still in the mix for the play-offs but we're running out of games. "And if we play like that we won't get there anyway. There are some big games still to come. We go to Hull, and the simple fact is we've got to go there and put in a much better performance."


    New Boro boss Warnock has now claimed two wins in four matches at the helm, and believes his new charges must keep mentally strong to avoid the drop. When quizzed on whether Fletcher fouled Cooper in the build-up to the first goal, Warnock could only reply: "Listen, I'm doing an Arsene Wenger, I haven't seen it!" But he then praised his side's battling victory, continuing: "I had a chat with the players afterwards on the pitch, you have to look at yourselves sometimes in the mirror. "It's not all about managers, you've got to want to be a winner, it doesn't just come to you. "Djed (Spence) had broken his nose in the first half and he was a bit worried about his good looks I think at half-time. "And I said to him, 'the only answer to that Djed is to win the game, win the game and know you'll come off the pitch having played your part'." Neither set of players took a knee before kick-off, with Rowett relaxed about that move. "I think it was something all the EFL teams wanted to do in the first games and then after I think they have to do it in the Sky games," said Rowett. "But I don't think it's something people have to do every single game. The stance was made and I don't think it's something people have to do every single game."

  • Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl sets his sights on third consecutive win

    Saints have already beaten Watford and Manchester City.

    08 Jul 2020, 16:25 CEST

    Ralph Hasenhuttl is determined to rack up three straight league wins for the first time as Southampton manager when facing Everton and former Bundesliga rival Carlo Ancelotti on Thursday. Any relegation fears have disappeared since football resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Saints collecting nine points from a possible 12 behind closed doors. Southampton have secured back-to-back wins against Watford and Manchester City, meaning they travel to Goodison Park with the chance to extend their winning run to a third match.


    Hasenhuttl's men have already won a club record eight of their 16 away Premier League games and the Austrian is gunning for even more. "We have five more games to play and we have massive targets to focus on," he said. "The first is since I've been here we have never won three games in a row, so this is a first target we absolutely want to get with the game against Everton now. "Big, big chance to make the third win and I think we go there with a lot of self-confidence in an away game. We know away we showed some good games this season. "And then also we are now in touch with all the clubs in front of us and to climb one or two positions in the table would be fantastic for us, not being part of this relegation zone, this final third. "Maybe the middle third would be a very, very good step forwards in our development, when you know where we are coming from. "I think the last 21 games we took 35 points, so it was the fifth most in the leagues. This shows our current form. "We have definitely after the restart shown some good games and we want to keep on doing."


    The trip to Goodison Park pits Hasenhuttl against the man that denied him a remarkable Bundesliga triumph with RB Leipzig in 2016/17. Ancelotti's Bayern Munich eventually cruised to the Bundesliga crown, but there were moments in the season when the promoted Red Bulls threatened an almighty shock. "He's a fantastic guy," Hasenhuttl said of Ancelotti. "He's so long in this business and won so many titles, he's one of the biggest managers at the moment around in football. "It was always a joy for me, I enjoyed it very much to battle with him and it'll sure be an interesting game and an interesting meeting." Moussa Djenepo will miss the trip to Merseyside with a calf complaint, joining Jannik Vestergaard, Sofiane Boufal and Yan Valery on the sidelines. Reported Everton target Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is available after missing the last two matches with a knock but may have to make do with a place on the bench. "We have done a good job with Oriol (Romeu) and Prowsey [James Ward-Prowse] in this role,"


    Hasenhuttl added. "But the fixtures are quite tough and we do not have a lot of time to rest. "I know that Oriol and Prowsey are both fit, and they can play three games in a week, but it is good to have Pierre back and another alternative, maybe he could play another position. "It will be important for him to be fit again and to help us, wherever I decide, but I am happy to have him back."

  • Lee Johnson looks to future but admits he was ‘saddened’ by Bristol City exit

    Johnson was sacked as head coach by the Robins on July 4.

    08 Jul 2020, 16:15 CEST

    Lee Johnson was "saddened" by his departure from Bristol City but is looking forward to "a new challenge" whenever that may arise. Johnson, 39, was sacked as head coach by the Robins on July 4 after four-and-a-half years at the club. In a statement issued by the League Managers Association, Johnson said: "I am deeply saddened by my departure. "I have spent the last four-and-a-half years 'all in'. I consumed myself with all sections of the club and loved every minute of it! "I would like to thank (owners) Steve and Maggie Lansdown, as well as the Lansdown family, for giving me the opportunity to manage such a great club, realising a personal ambition of mine. Thank you also to the board of directors for their strong support throughout. "A special mention to (chief executive officer) Mark Ashton who I have enjoyed an excellent day-to-day relationship with, both as a friend and a colleague."


    Johnson, who spent over five years as a player for the Robins, guided the club to the EFL Cup semi-finals in 2018-18 but was unable to steer his side to a Championship play-off spot during his tenure. "At Bristol City I have worked with a fantastic staff and shared so many great times in my tenure. I am extremely proud of the work done," he added. "As a collective I thank all staff, past and present, for their efforts and commitment to the cause. "Thank you to the players for their attitude and application in training. The culture and learning environment we have created has allowed us to trade, nurture and compete. The club has a great future with many young talented players on the books. "On a personal level, it has been an honour to manage Bristol City Football Club and now is the time to move on to a new challenge. I am excited for my next adventure, when the opportunity arises and the timing is right."

  • Middlesbrough boost survival hopes with crucial win over Millwall

    Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher were the scorers.

    08 Jul 2020, 16:13 CEST

    Britt Assombalonga's controversial finish handed Middlesbrough a Championship survival boost in a niggly 2-0 win at Millwall. Assombalonga's eighth league goal of the season and a late Ashley Fletcher penalty stole Boro a second win under new boss Niel Warnock and a big boost in their bid to avoid the drop. Fletcher fouled Jake Cooper in the build-up to Assombalonga's goal however, the 24-year-old clearly clipping the Millwall defender's heels, before sauntering in on goal and playing in Assombalonga. As Millwall's players all stopped expecting a free-kick, referee Tim Robinson let play continue – leaving the Lions fuming when Assombalonga's goal was allowed to stand. The second-half drinks break that quickly followed Assombalonga's goal was instructive as to Millwall's lingering frustrations.


    Midfielder Ryan Woods asked fourth official Neil Hair: "How is that not a foul? How is that not a foul? ****ing useless!" Just when Millwall had calmed down however, Cooper felled Fletcher in the box, and the day's controversial figure stepped up and buried the resulting spot-kick. The loss will prove a dent in Millwall's bid to reach the play-offs, while Warnock will happily grab all three points. Matt Smith wasted the best chance of a gritty first half, the bulky striker towering over the Boro defence and yet still heading well over from a corner. Millwall saw more of the ball and played far the neater football, with Woods the best player on the field. The Stoke loanee bossed the base of the Lions' midfield, but was unable to coax those in front of him into a breakthrough despite initiating a string of threatening moves. Shaun Hutchinson pulled off a fine block to deny Assombalonga a close-range opening for the visitors, before Djed Spence's flimsy penalty shout was rightly dismissed.


    Warnock cut his usual animated, dissatisfied figure on the touchline as he corralled the visiting players back into the changing rooms at half-time. And his words at the interval had enough of an impact to spur his side into upping the tempo. Paddy McNair blazed over from near the penalty spot in a glaringly profligate effort however, letting Millwall off the hook right after the restart. Millwall rallied quickly enough however, and Smith was unlucky not to break the deadlock with a smart header. Dejan Stojanovic's snap save thwarted the Lions, with the Boro goalkeeper then called into action just moments later to deny Connor Mahoney with his legs. Millwall's resurgence was stopped in its tracks however, as Assombalonga profited from Fletcher's clear foul to slot home an easy finish. Fletcher illegally clipped Cooper's legs without censure, coasted through the space and played in Assombalonga with a simple square ball. As the goal stood, the Millwall players' fury increased, but to no avail. Millwall battled on but could find no way back into the match. And to add insult to injury, Cooper was caught out and conceded a penalty for hacking down Fletcher in the area. The gleeful Boro forward lashed home the spot-kick, to send his bench delirious at three hugely valuable points in the battle for survival.

  • Forest Green snap up Kane Wilson

    The 20-year-old full-back has spent loan spells at Walsall, Exeter and Tranmere over the last two seasons.

    08 Jul 2020, 15:52 CEST

    Forest Green have signed full-back Kane Wilson on a two-year contract following his release by West Brom. The 20-year-old has impressed in loan spells in League One and Two over the last two seasons at Walsall, Exeter and Tranmere. Wilson told Rovers' website: "I'm really pleased to be joining Forest Green, my family are so proud. Now I just can't wait to get going for the new season." Forest Green director of football Richard Hughes said: "We see Kane as a great asset to the football club and think he will be a good fit for us. "He is the modern full-back and can effect the play at both ends of the pitch."

  • Caroline Dale set to go back up in class

    Loughnane filly confirmed Ascot promise with easy novice win.

    08 Jul 2020, 15:41 CEST

    Caroline Dale is to step back up to Pattern company after gaining a deserved first career success in convincing fashion at Windsor. Races such as the Princess Margaret, Molecomb and Lowther Stakes are to be considered by connections following her smooth all-the-way win on Monday. Those punters who took the odds of 4-7 hardly had an anxious moment as the daughter of Lethal Force came home two and a quarter lengths clear of the opposition in a novice race at the Berkshire venue. The David Loughnane-trained filly was sent off such a short price after outrunning odds of 100-1 when third in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot. "As you'd expect, we were fairly confident going down there," said Loughnane. "It wasn't a formality, but we were expecting the performance she put in. "We've thought a lot of her from day one. She went to Ascot, and there was a lot more pressure (at Windsor). She got the job done in nice fashion. We were really pleased with her, and she's come out of the race very well. "She's a very exciting filly." Loughnane hopes the filly may find more improvement when she goes up in trip. She was second over six furlongs on her debut last month. "I think she will probably be better over six," added her Shropshire trainer. "She's certainly got the pace for five – but the further they went (at Windsor), the better she was. "We've got plenty of options. She's had three fairly quick runs in the space of a month, and that can be a lot for a two-year-old. "She has a fantastic constitution – (her last race) took nothing out of her. "We've got a few options on the table. There's the Princess Margaret at Ascot on July 26. You've got the Molecomb (at Goodwood) pencilled in, and the Lowther at York. "We'll be going into black-type company, whether that be Listed or Group Three next. We've got plenty of options with her, and I think we can go where we want."

  • Dark Jedi sparks Easterby’s Ripon double

    Yard’s new arrival posts second victory in 10 days.

    08 Jul 2020, 15:34 CEST

    Tim Easterby should have some fun with Dark Jedi, given how his new purchase won for the second time in just 10 days at Ripon – initiating a double for the Great Habton handler. Successful at Hamilton last week, the former Charlie Hills inmate swooped fast and late under Duran Fentiman to beat Nicklaus by a length and a quarter in the www.attheraces.com Handicap. Sent off a 6-1 chance, he is the first horse owner Evan Sutherland – who has tasted success with the likes of Out Do and Highland Colori in the past – has sent to Easterby. "William (Easterby) and Rory Bevan bought him second hand (for 20,000 guineas) – he was just a good looking horse," said Easterby. "He could be a Saturday horse – but I don't mind coming here on a Wednesday! He's a very nice horse, he won nicely and had a good position throughout. "If you get a good run through here you've got a good chance. "He's our first horse for Evan, and it's a great start.He's a lovely man and a good owner and a genuine guy so it's great we've got a nice horse for him." Easterby then doubled up in the Visit attheraces.com Handicap with Garden Oasis (11-1) – who has a slightly different profile. Bounced out of the stalls by David Allan, from the widest draw of all, he never saw another rival and won eased down by four and a half lengths. Easterby said: "Every time he ran last season he came back not right. He was actually in the sales, but we decided not to sell him. "It took a long time to get him right in the winter, but he's been sound and ok recently and ran a good race at Haydock but just didn't get home. "David won it in the first furlong." Andrea Atzeni made sure the trip north was worthwhile when making all the running on Richard Hannon's Mambo Nights (11-4) in the Follow @attheraces On Twitter Handicap. Only four went to post, but all will win races in the future – and Mambo Nights, in defying top weight, looks the best prospect currently. Atzeni said: "He has very good juvenile form and was beaten by some nice horses like Quadrilateral. "He won quite nicely last time over 10 furlongs. He was stepping up to a mile and a half and carrying top weight, so it was a nice performance. "I don't ride much round here, but it can suit the front runners. I got quite an easy time – we started racing a long way out, but he kept going. Hopefully there's more to come from him. "There were only four runners, but the (William) Haggas horse (King's Castle) is probably all right, and they apparently think a bit of James Bethell's (Stockbridge Tap, second). "It wasn't certain on his pedigree that he'd stay the trip, but it was straightforward. It's not for me to decide where he goes next, but he can only get better." Karl Burke sends stable star Dandalla to Newmarket on Friday, so was glad to be back among the winners. On the mark at Pontefract on Tuesday with Rayong, his Socially Shady (9-1) came down the centre of the track to win the Sky Sports Racing HD Virgin 535 Handicap by a neck under Ben Curtis. Burke said: "Socially Shady has been a bit of a slow-burning, backward horse. He's always shown some potential but he saves a fair bit for himself – at home as well as on the track. "The cheek-pieces definitely helped him. A quicker-run race will probably suit him better, and he'll stay further. "We've had lots of seconds and thirds, but it's nice to be back among the winners." Sandhoe provided Jedd O'Keeffe with a winner in the opening Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Fillies' Novice Auction Stakes, jockey Jack Garrity taking up a prominent early position and making it count to prevail by a head at 9-2. O'Keeffe said from the sales at Newmarket : "I just managed to catch it, and I was really pleased. Jack did a fantastic job – she had a really poor draw, and she jinked right coming out of the stalls, so it was a very good ride. She's a tough filly and she stuck her head out. "She's our first two-year-old winner, though we haven't run many. I have around 12 two-year-olds – and I'm trying to buy another one now!" Saeed bin Suroor has an impressive strike-rate at Ripon and improved it further when Deep Snow justified even-money favouritism in the Free Tips Daily On attheraces.com Maiden Stakes.

  • Golden Horde primed for ‘proper Group One’ in July Cup

    Cox has great respect for opposition in Newmarket showpiece.

    08 Jul 2020, 15:30 CEST

    Clive Cox believes Golden Horde will be lining up in "a proper Group One" for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket. The three-year-old will clash with older horses for the first time in Saturday's six-furlong feature, after making a victorious return to action in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last month. That was a first top-level success for the Lethal Force colt, who landed the Richmond Stakes last year as well as finishing placed in both the Prix Morny and Middle Park, but Cox is aware his charge is going up a notch at Newmarket, with Diamond Jubilee winner Hello Youmzain heading the possible opposition. He said: "He's in great form, he came back from Ascot very well indeed. The timescale between that run and here is perfect – obviously that was his seasonal debut, and I couldn't be happier, he's come back and thrived since then. "I think it's a proper Group One, there's a host of horses I would be respecting. "Obviously Hello Youmzain from the Jubilee, and there's a local horse in Lambourn, Oxted, that I would give a lot of respect to as well – Roger Teal's horses are running especially well. "Judicial was very good at Newcastle the other day after a good second at Newmarket previously, and then of course there's Threat, who was a horse we beat in the Richmond last year, but is a very good horse who has been exploring slightly longer distances and steps back. "This was always Plan A, and thankfully things went very well at Ascot – to win the Commonwealth Cup was very special, especially for Sheikh Sultan who has been a wonderful supporter. We go forward here with a run under our belt now, so hopefully he will continue to thrive." The ground at Newmarket is currently reported to be good, with further rain a possibility ahead of the race, which is part of the 2020 Qipco British Champions Series. Cox thinks Golden Horde is adaptable in terms of conditions, adding: "He ran on some very testing ground in France, at Deauville in the Morny. "I think nice ground would be in his favour, but he's proven he's able to cope with a little bit of ease as well. "His sire Lethal Force was very much happier on quicker ground, and I'd be hoping we don't get too much rain if I'm honest, but I'm very much relaxed because he's as versatile as possible." Golden Horde will be trying to give Cox a third win in the race following the successes of the aforementioned Lethal Force in 2013 and Harry Angel three years ago. As a son of his former stable star, Golden Horde has a special place in Cox's affections. He said: "It means a lot – we enjoyed a wonderful time with Lethal Force who still holds the course record for this race, which is pretty spectacular when you think of all the good horses that have won and competed in the July Cup over the years. We enjoyed a very special journey with the Craddock family (owners)."

  • Hey Gaman set for late start after setback

    Tate hopes seven-furlong specialist will still be back this season.

    08 Jul 2020, 15:16 CEST

    James Tate is hoping Hey Gaman can return to action later in the year following a setback which has delayed his seasonal reappearance. The talented five-year-old enjoyed a successful campaign in 2019, winning Listed and Group Three races on his first two starts and running with credit at Group One and Group Two level later on. He earned a trip to America for the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita and was not disgraced, eventually being beaten four and three-quarter lengths in seventh place behind Uni. "He just had a little setback a few weeks ago,"said Tate. "I hope it's not serious and hopefully you'll see him back later in the year. "It's too early to talk about plans."

  • Prix Morny looms for Nando Parrado

    Coventry winner has several options en route to Deauville Group One.

    08 Jul 2020, 14:33 CEST

    Clive Cox is considering a clutch of options for his shock Royal Ascot winner Nando Parrado. The Kodiac colt stepped up on his debut fifth at Newmarket to spring a 150-1 surprise in the Coventry Stakes, and Cox has the Group One Prix Morny at Deauville on August 23 as his primary target. Nando Parrado has a choice of possible races before then, though, with his Lambourn trainer expecting plans to be firmed up in the coming days. Cox said: "We'll make a little bit more of a decision after the weekend. He's had a bit of time to get over his race at Ascot – he's still only a baby, but a very high class one. "We've got entries in the Prix Robert Papin, the Phoenix and the Morny as well – with the Morny being the main Group One target that we want to head to, and the stepping stones in between will be decided dependent on the horse's well-being and how he's feeling in the meantime. "I don't think he wants it rattling firm. It was drying ground on the Saturday at Ascot, and he beat a field we were still learning about to be fair, but I think his quality to do it the way he did it shows it wasn't a fluke – and the price was extraordinary, really." Nando Parrado is named after one of the survivors of a 1972 plane crash in the Andes which was the subject of a best-selling book and subsequent film. Cox reports owners Paul and Marie McCarten have been in touch with the colt's namesake. The trainer added: "He (the human Nando Parrado) most certainly does (know about the Royal Ascot win). "I've not spoken to him directly, but I know the owners have, and he's thrilled he's got such a high-profile horse competing with his name. He was thrilled about it in the first place, so that's good."

  • Kilmarnock sign Mitch Pinnock

    The former AFC Wimbledon midfielder has agreed a one-year deal.

    08 Jul 2020, 14:33 CEST

    Kilmarnock have announced the signing of Mitch Pinnock on a one-year deal, subject to Scottish Football Association approval. The 25-year-old midfielder most recently played for AFC Wimbledon in League One. Pinnock started his senior career at Southend and had spells at several clubs, including National League side Dover, before his Wimbledon move. Killie manager Alex Dyer told the club's official website: "I hope Mitch can give us some quality in the wide areas in terms of delivering good crosses as well as scoring goals. "He's someone who will get up and down the pitch and work hard for the team and give us additional dimension that we need in certain areas."

  • Jose Mourinho keeps quiet over Eric Dier ban but admits appeal is unlikely

    Dier was handed a four-match suspension on Wednesd after he climbed into the stand following Spurs’ FA Cup exit to Norwich in March to confront a fan.

    08 Jul 2020, 14:12 CEST

    Jose Mourinho chose to keep his counsel on Eric Dier's four-match ban in fear of receiving a punishment himself but said Tottenham are unlikely to appeal the decision. Dier has been handed the sanction after he climbed into the stand following Spurs' FA Cup exit to Norwich in March to confront a fan who was arguing with his brother. An independent panel ruled it was not his sole intention to protect his brother when he entered the stands that his behaviour was "objectively threatening". Mourinho has previously said he did not expect Dier to receive any punishment and was clearly nonplussed about the decision, opting to keep quiet. He said: "No reaction. I prefer no reaction. I am not going to answer, if I answer I am going to be in trouble and I don't want to be. So no comment on that." On a possible appeal he added: "I don't think so, if you appeal you have other risks. At least let's start next season without a suspension. We all know how it works at these FA decisions. "You have access if you want to the record of successful appeals and unsuccessful appeals. I don't think so, I don't think we're going to appeal." The 26-year-old accepted the misconduct charge, but denied his behaviour was threatening and argued his intention was only to protect his brother Patrick. The spectator involved told police in a statement that he was acting like "an idiot" and did not feel threatened. However, the panel chose not to believe the statement, which was not released by police and had to be communicated to the process via Dier's solicitor, instead deciding the fan was scared based on video footage. The fan was shown racing towards an exit as Dier climbed the stands, while another piece of footage, which appears pivotal in the case, captured Dier going towards the fan rather than his brother. The written reasons from the panel in the case read: "We are quite satisfied on the balance of probabilities, that Eric Diers's conduct in (1) chasing the spectator through the well populated stand; (2) passing through supporters; (3) causing some to move out of his way; (4) over the distance; (5) for the time; and (6) in the manner he did, was objectively threatening. "We appreciate some filmed the incident and others simply watched. But, that of itself does not prevent it being, when viewed objectively, threatening. "His conduct caused or contributed to the spectator fleeing. It is also no doubt why a number of people held him back from exit 103 and stopped him from pursuing the fleeing spectator. "Eric Dier's conduct may not have been threatening to those holding him back, but we are satisfied it was threatening towards the spectator, and also when viewed objectively." The panel ruled that the aggravating factors included the distance Dier travelled through a stand heavily populated by spectators, pursuing the spectator after he had moved away and posed no threat to Dier's brother and that he is a high-profile footballer. Dier's ban starts immediately, meaning he will miss Thursday's trip to Bournemouth as well as games against Arsenal, Newcastle and Leicester. Dele Alli will also be missing at the Vitality Stadium as he battles a hamstring injury. Mourinho added of the problem: "Small, but not ready for tomorrow. "We know that he had a little sad history about hamstrings last season I think, so it's to be careful and not risk when you know that he has a little problem there. So tomorrow out."

  • Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti defends ‘great professional’ Gylfi Sigurdsson

    The Iceland international was criticised for his performance in Monday’s defeat at Tottenham.

    08 Jul 2020, 14:05 CEST

    Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has defended Gylfi Sigurdsson after the midfielder came in for criticism for his performance in Monday's defeat at Tottenham. During the 1-0 loss, television commentator and former England defender Gary Neville called out the Iceland international for pulling out of a tackle, while after the game ex-Toffees midfielder Tim Cahill said the club's record GBP 45million signing had to be more accountable. Ancelotti, however, was keen to move on from the Tottenham disappointment and absolved Sigurdsson from being singled out for blame. "I'm not used to criticising players in a press conference. I didn't see that he didn't put a tackle in," said the Italian, ahead of Thursday's visit of Southampton. "Gylfi's a professional player, 100 per cent. He can play good, he can play bad. We cannot discuss him as a professional. He's a great professional. "Maybe he could do better but against Tottenham all the team could do better. Now is not the time to analyse the game against Tottenham, "I already talked to the players. The game against Tottenham has gone. I also said to the players it is time to move to the next game which is an important game against a strong team." Sigurdsson, in his defence, made his career as a number 10 but such is the paucity of resources in central midfield he has been asked to play a slighter deeper role, which is not necessarily suited to his game. Ancelotti accepted himself, after the Spurs defeat, they had "lost the fight in the middle of the park" but brushed off suggestions what they were lacking was more physicality. "I think at the end of the season we are going to analyse the season together," added Ancelotti, who accepts his side will have to win most of their five remaining matches to stand a chance of European qualification. "We are going to try to improve the squad for the next season but now is not the time to judge. "I've known them for six months, I know really well their quality so they don't have to prove anything to me but they have to prove to themselves, for the club, for the supporters because to play Europa League will be really important for the next season. "But if this doesn't happen nothing has changed. The plan for the future is quite clear. "It means we are going to improve the squad 100 per cent. We try to be more competitive at the top of the table. This season we are closer to the bottom and next season we would like to be more close to the top."

  • Florian Kamberi not interested in another loan deal

    The striker joined Rangers on a temporary basis in January.

    08 Jul 2020, 13:57 CEST

    Florian Kamberi will only consider returning to Rangers on a permanent deal, the PA news agency understands. The Hibernian striker made a controversial loan switch to Ibrox back in January after trading places with Gers midfielder Greg Docherty. But he upset the Leith support during his unveiling when he described the Gers faithful as the "best fans in the world". It looked like his stint in the capital was over when Easter Road boss Jack Ross later admitted those comments had made a return to Hibs "challenging". While the 25-year-old has rejoined his parent club for pre-season training, Ross again cast doubt on his long-term future with Hibs during an interview with Sky Sports News on Tuesday when he admitted the Swiss-born frontman could yet be sent back to Ibrox ahead of the new season, saying: "There is continued dialogue to try and find a solution which suits both parties." Reports now suggest another temporary season-long swap with Docherty has been proposed by Gers sporting director Ross Wilson. But sources close to Kamberi, who has 12 months left on his Hibs contract, have told PA he is not interested in another loan and will only agree to rejoin Steven Gerrard's team if a permanent deal can be struck. Kamberi, who scored once in six appearances for the Light Blues before the campaign was called to a halt by the coronavirus outbreak, believes he is coming into his peak and is looking for some stability having already racked up spells at five clubs so far. Rangers remain his preferred option but with interest from Championship clubs down south as well as from Switzerland and Poland, he is content to wait for the best offer. Gerrard is keen to bolster his striking options and provide competition for Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defore, with rumoured moves for Anderlecht's former Leeds forward Kemar Roofe and Livingston's Australian hitman Lyndon Dykes also being weighed up.